One would think that a massive corporation such as Ubisoft is at no risk whatsoever of being eaten by another company anytime soon, right? Wrong, apparently, because it seems like French media giant Vivendi is currently attempting a hostile takeover on the creators of the Assassin’s Creed series. A report by The Globe and Mail indicates that Vivendi had its eye on Ubisoft for a while now, but only started making a serious push during the last several months. To make matters even worse for the game developer, Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré is after sister company Gameloft as well.
Ubisoft and Gameloft have been founded by the Guillemot family and are currently lead by Yves and Michel Guillemot, respectively, two brothers who would prefer that the companies remain under their leadership for the foreseeable future. At first glance it almost seems like Vivendi is trying to ruin the family business with this move, however, the media giant claims that this is simply “part of a strategic vision of operational convergence between Vivendi’s content and platforms on one hand and the Ubisoft and Gameloft productions in video games on the other.” Be that as it may, Ubisoft is rightfully worried about the future of more than 3,000 of its employees across Canada who may or may not keep their jobs if the takeover goes through.
Vivendi took the first steps towards forcing the takeover last October when it bought 6.6% of Ubisoft, only to increase its share to 10.39% later that month. At present, that figure sits at about 15% while 30% of Gameloft’s shares have already been lost to Bolloré earlier this year. Vivendi is now continuing the aggressive push by offering to buy shares at a premium price in order to persuade shareholders to sell their stock. In response to the takeover bid, Ubisoft is looking to attract more Canadian investors in order to better protect its assets. “We want to increase the number of Canadian shareholders in Ubisoft to have better control over the capital,” says Guillemot. “We feel it’s a good defense.” French corporate intrigue aside, the most important question for us gamers is what happens to Ubisoft’s games if Vivendi’s plan is successful? The developer certainly had its fair share of criticism and bad launches over the years, but it’s still an important player in the industry thanks to major franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry.
Currently, the company is preparing to launch The Division, a highly anticipated multiplayer third-person shooter/RPG that will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One starting with March 8th. Ubisoft revealed last week that it has a new battle plan on the table that will focus more on multiplayer AAA titles and less on yearly “fire and forget” releases. I don’t know about you, but this plan sounds pretty good to me and I think most of us would be grateful to take a little break from the annual Assassin’s Creed title because it’s honestly starting to get pretty old. I just wish Activision would do the same with Call of Duty.